Clinton impeachment manager Lindsey Graham calls Trump Ukraine scandal 'nothing burger'


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dismissed concerns that Trump violated the law with his request to the Ukrainian president.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dismissed revelations that Donald Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigative a political opponent — an apparent violation of federal election law — by suggesting that the story is a "nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger."

Graham, who once urged Trump to "go to hell" but now is one of his fiercest defenders, tweeted on Wednesday morning that he could not believe House Democrats had launched an impeachment inquiry over Trump's clear efforts to pressure a foreign leader to help him get reelected.

"Wow. Impeachment over this?" Graham asked. "What a nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger. Democrats have lost their minds when it comes to President @realDonaldTrump."

Graham was repeating a false GOP talking point that Trump's effort would only be illegal if there had been an explicit quid pro quo — though the president's clear effort to tie the requested "favor" to aid to Ukraine would likely also satisfy such a requirement.

Once upon a time, Graham was a member of the House of Representatives and served on the House Judiciary Committee. In December 1998, then-Rep. Graham enthusiastically voted for multiple articles of impeachment against then-President Bill Clinton, accusing him of perjury and obstruction of justice after he gave false testimony about oral sex.

Graham did not just push for the removal of the president — he became a "House manager" for the 1999 Senate trial, effectively becoming a prosecutor against Clinton.

In a "Meet the Press" appearance at around that time, he claimed that the standard for impeachment did not even require illegal behavior. "[President Clinton] doesn't have to say, 'Go lie for me,' to be a crime," he argued. "You don't have to say, 'Let's obstruct justice' for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases."

"You don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role," Graham told the senators at the trial. "Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office."

Even with a 55-45 GOP Senate majority, Graham and his colleagues failed to convince even a simple majority of senators to vote to convict Clinton — falling well short of the required two-thirds supermajority for removal.

Despite the obvious hypocrisy, Graham claimed Wednesday afternoon that even if it were a Democratic president, "I'd be saying the same thing if there was the same phone call. There's nothing wrong here."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.